Friday, November 20, 2015

The Greatest Violence Upon You

          What is the diet of choice of terrorists? It may surprise you to know that terrorists favor American fast food, which, of course, thanks to so-called Western Imperialism, may be found anywhere, even in the desert. Terrorists like to wash down their chicken deep fry with high-octane energy drinks like Red Bull, topped with a few Captagons for dessert. What’s a Captagon? A synthetic drug called fenethylline. Users have reported a feeling of emotional numbness allowing them to kill with “reckless abandon.” "You can't sleep or even close your eyes, forget about it," said a Lebanese user. “And whatever you take to stop it, nothing can stop it." "I felt like I own the world high," another user said. "Like I have power nobody has. A really nice feeling." "There was no fear anymore after I took Captagon," a third man added.

     A gamer's dream, a pill that refuses to let them sleep for days while they shoot, shoot, shoot, a pill that pumps them up like Rambo. Remember Rambo? That screaming banshee who mowed down his enemies with an automatic weapon. What was Rambo’s rifle anyway? The classic M60 that usually took two soldiers to operate: one to aim and shoot, the other to feed the ammo into the gun. Sly, slung with ammo like a bandido, shot and fed the gun himself, the lone wolf, the loose cannon, the working class hero who took matters into his own hands.

This is not a video game and this is not a movie.

      Real life shooters have followed Rambo's example and mowed down former employers/employees; divorce lawyers; ex-wives; ex-girlfriends; classmates and teachers. 
      None of these terrorists were cooking their own food at home. None of them were following their ancient, traditional diet of whole grains, vegetables, beans and fruit. None of them are responsibly washing their bowl by hand after they’d eaten with gratitude. Vegans can get pretty passionate and loud while marching for World Peace, Equal Rights or the preservation of the bees, the monarch butterfly or our wild lands, but no vegan has ever picked up an automatic weapon to fight for the polar bear.

     The AK-47, the Kalashnikov, was the automatic weapon used in the most recent terrorist attack on Paris, capable of a deadly spray up to 328 yards. The cowardly distance between assassin and victim, not counting the yard for the gun itself. 329 yards to murder helpless unarmed men, women and children. People who were relaxing and enjoying life only a moment before. Paris was chosen as a target, like a beautiful woman is chosen as a target. Paris is beautiful, she is loved, she is elite. The typical criminal’s lament of “if I can’t have it, no one can.” Terrorists claim they do not want our Western lifestyle, they want to destroy it and us, yet they choose our smart phones, our social networks, our fast food and our guns.
     But, anyone may choose health and happiness at any time. Fire up the stove and simmer those lentils and brown rice. You’ll feel better. You’ll look around you with fresh eyes. Hate will seem so stupid when there is work and love. Your weapon of choice can be cooking, giving you the ability to change yourself, others and the world.

Renaissance Kitchen
ancient, traditional foods of lentils & brown rice cooking
(photo and kitchen by the author)

     Consider this quote about Iraqi women from Generation Kill – “They say you can see their ovens from outer space.”  Now, that's power! Why would anyone turn his back on that kind of power?


 The Greatest Violence Upon You

What is the greatest violence upon you?
but the loss of your ancient memory
the blue drink
the plastic taco
the microwaved orange paste
the 7-11 on the corner
dispensing drugs of every kind
more democratically blind than Justice herself
to race or creed, gender, age, poverty or wealth

stripping your mind and body
stealing your self from you

not a watering hole
but a black hole
on every corner of every small town and big city

drive by drink the blue drink, drive by irradiated orange paste boiling nuclear salt in your veins till you scream bloody murder your brother, drive by orange taco paste seething in your veins till you dose the fire with blue radioactivity murder your brother, drive by fire in your brain, drink the red drink, drink the blood of your brother, drive by

sucking in your children, your strong and clear making degeneration making degeneration, children making shrunken children, disposable children the

army makes sense for you 7-11 convenience the mother who replaces your mother while she works -

why cook when you can nuke some plastic sauce
when grain is your greatest freedom
when it will free you from SLAVERY
why not eat your slavery each and every day

feed the fires of slavery seething in your bellies the hunger that cannot be quenched seethes up like acid from what they tell you to do,
from what they want you do

KILL EACH OTHER! get a gun and shoot into the first McDonalds you see you'll feel better you’ll feel like a man ROAR LIKE RAMBO TILL THE GUN IS EMPTY and your belly STILL BURNS

even the richest man cannot send his butler
to go to the bathroom for him
Cancer used to be only for the wealthy
Now you want it too!

What will you build your civilization upon?
What is the message in the grain?
was it sent to us by aliens,
those who see us from above?
who visit our hangers of nuclear war
who came to these very shores
the year the power plant was built
to tell us

build not upon the split atom or unclean coal
they told us, tossing our ancient cities upon the grain
flinging down the patterns of Ur and Nineveh
Athens and Alexandria
circles we once built upon

the grain is free
it grows under your feet
multiplying like the loaves and fishes
it is the blood of the sacred covenant forgotten

Remember your grandmother?
or if you are young, your great-grandmother?
who would not send you out
without something warm in your belly?
something she formed like she formed you
from nature
with her own hands?
Black or “lily-white”
it makes no difference!
it's the same!
made from love!
to pump your blood to your brain,
your soul, your limbs to carry your soul,
your hands and feet to use your soul
to keep you sane
to keep your head up
to keep you humble before God
so you would not forget

your sacred body is not made of blue drink orange goo chips melted out of the mouths of machines grinding your heart and soul to mush one on every corner of the ghetto and cul de sac, ad infinitum, who wants to cook when you can fill your pockets with forgetfulness you and your food do not come from Taco Bell

©Patricia Goodwin, 2015
“The Greatest Violence Upon You,” from Atlantis by Patricia Goodwin.

Patricia Goodwin is the author of When Two Women Die, about Marblehead legends and true crime and its sequel, Dreamwater, about the Salem witch trials and the vicious 11-year-old pirate Ned Low. Holy Days is her third novel, about the sexual, psychological seduction of Gloria Wisher and her subsequent transformation. Her newest poetry books are Telling Time By Apples, And Other Poems About Life On The Remnants of Olde Humphrey Farme, illustrated by the author, and Java Love: Poems of a Coffeehouse.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015



     Last Saturday night, November 7, accompanied by my husband and daughter, I made a pilgrimage to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to see the immortal Patti Smith.

     I was never a punk. Punk came after my hippie generation of the late ‘60s. I remember the first punks coming from Europe in the early ‘70s to learn macrobiotics. I loved their fierceness and their originality. But, I was nothing like them. I would never have stuck a safety pin through my nose. I was more of a Laura Ashley, white lace, pink rose kind of girl. I never liked drugs. I liked being myself, and hated the time spent high, just to please my friends. Patti and I are nothing alike in the way we live – judging from her description of her room, she is informed by the debris of life - I am informed by the serenity of cleanliness – nor in our tastes – she likes to travel, I am severely travel challenged. I needed my entourage that night in Portsmouth. I knew only two of her songs – “Because the Night” (which was a little too commercial for me, come to find out the music was written by Bruce Springsteen) and what I like to call, The Gloria.
     I love the Gloria. I love the original by Van Morrison, performed by his band, Them in 1964. For some reason, even though my name is not Gloria, the boys really did sing that song when I walked by, “G*L*O*R*I*A! G*L*O*R*I*A!” I was 12. Not ready to hear it. I was older when I heard Jim Morrison of the Doors sing Gloria. (Trigger Warning: this link is to the dirty version from a private rehearsal) That was a revelation. His smooth voice, his nasty intention, played a girl’s nerves like guitar strings. But, it wasn’t until I heard Patti’s Gloria that all of my Catholic pain came tumbling down. I have to say that hearing Patti sing, was experienced in combination with all three versions of the song, mixed together with Catholic fear, anguish, hope and a statement I’d heard from another Gloria – Gloria Steinem – really spoken to her by a female Irish can driver in Boston – “Honey, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” What has that statement to do with a horny teenage girl going up to my house? Or imagining I was that horny teenage girl? How can you not know the answer to that question?
     Sexual freedom, of course. Sexual freedom. The gender bending of Patti’s Gloria only added to the surprise and delight – and the wild, new sense of freedom. Complete freedom including, as in my Gloria’s case, the freedom to not have sex, for, like Athena, my Gloria, until she is raped, cherishes her virginity, as she calls it, “a shield and a sword.” But, my Gloria feels no shame at being raped. No guilt.
     I named my character in Holy Days, the little girl who represents me, after Patti Smith’s Gloria. Gloria, the glory of God, the glory of man, the glory of woman, the glory of little girls, the seeker, the wisher for glory, glory that is natural, sexual, life-affirming, transmuting, the God-given glory of heaven and earth, the little girl Gloria who loves to hear the choir sing her name at mass, "Gloria in excelsis Deo!"

     Gloria is a common Italian name. I love that. Like Maria and Jesus, to name your child Gloria is a wish for him/her to partake in the glory of God.
       As everyone knows by now, Patti’s version of Gloria begins with these almost whispered words, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.”
     As a Magdalena, I am familiar with the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. In this gospel, hidden for centuries, and rejected from the official Bible, Jesus says, “There is no sin, except that you make it a sin.”
     We apply shame to sex. The Catholic Church and many other religions wanted to control people, so they made them ashamed. And fearful. They threatened people with hell fire and eternal suffering. But, it’s all a ruse. We have the truth from Jesus himself, whom I believe was married to Mary Magdalene, and proposed that we all marry, eat well, live simply and work in small, healthy communities. In macrobiotic theory, the shame of sex comes from unhealthful elimination. Problems in the bowels make the whole area smelly and unclean. When we eliminate, it should be quick and clean. Ideally, there should be no need for toilet paper. Meat eating, according to macrobiotics, makes our bowels hard and blocked, which in turn makes us fearful, heavy, guilty (another form of fear) and depressed. It’s really that simple, and I predict that you won’t hear me, except maybe to have a good laugh.

      I don’t believe Jesus died for our sins. I believe he died because of them. In other words, we failed him. I do believe he taught us how to live. And we failed to hear him, both in ancient Rome and today. When Patti sings, “My sins, my own!” I say to God, as Gloria does in her final prayer in Holy Days, “Thank you for my sins…You’ve given me wounds and the salt to heal them. I thank you.”

     Patti Smith has become our mystic. She is an old soul who can communicate without words, though she chooses words. I love her line: “I did not sell my soul – to God!” I don’t believe God wants us to sell our souls to Him. That’s just another Catholic ruse. But, I admire Patti for being brave enough to proclaim her independence. I believe God allows us to be our own person, whatever that is, good or bad. Yin and yang. Consider this: I have heard on good authority that Satan is still in heaven.

     When I made my small pilgrimage to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I found there an elder, shining, silver Patti, dressed simply, holding up her hands in giving graceful gesture, singing “Wing” acapella. She was generous, intimate, honest, wise, silly, tender, reverent, irreverent, sweet, shy, mad, messy, absent-minded (Her phone rang at exactly 8:00 p.m. and she said, “No wonder my phone didn’t wake me up this morning.”), sad, funny, foolish, eye-opening, seeking, searching, wonderful.

     To close, rather than quote Patti's books, Just Kids or M Train again, I opened Patti’s darling Rimbaud’s book, Illuminations at random and found this – “Venus enters the caverns of ironsmiths and hermits…Savages dance ceaselessly in celebration of the night.”
     And from my poem, “I Must BeAbout The Work Of My Fathers” -
      Patti Smith
You do not think it’s bravery. I do. Because I need to be quiet.
But, I adore your horses and your ties.
Kiss me with your words and your beats, Oh Prince!
I do not know if you are father or mother, but I love you.

©Patricia Goodwin, 2015

Patricia Goodwin is the author of When Two Women Die, about Marblehead legends and true crime and its sequel, Dreamwater, about the Salem witch trials and the vicious 11-year-old pirate Ned Low. Holy Days is her third novel, about the sexual, psychological seduction of Gloria Wisher and her subsequent transformation.